It was a big weekend for the African Union, which opened a new $200 million headquarters in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa.
Heads of state from all over the continent attended the opening of the 27-story conference center, now the tallest building in Addis Ababa. The new headquarters was a donation from the Chinese government, a symbol of the robust role China is playing in development throughout Africa.
For China, which has sought to enhance its access to natural resources, the new headquarters is one of the largest development projects it has undertaken in a number of years.
Construction of the African Union complex, which includes an office tower and huge circular conference hall, began in early 2009 and was completed on schedule in December 2011, with a workforce of roughly 1,200 Chinese and Ethiopian workers.
The new complex received the praise of the chairman of the African Union, Teodoro Obiang Nguema, the president of Equatorial Guinea. He cited the “generosity of the Chinese government” and said that the new headquarters represented “a qualitative leap in the relations between China and Africa.”
China has been deeply involved in development throughout the continent of Africa for decades. It is in large measure a result of the Chinese quest for key resources in oil, minerals, timber and other products. Many African nations are seen as fast-growing and profitable markets for Chinese exported goods.
Obiang said that, in spite of the worldwide economic problems, the Chinese government continued in its commitment to the project for the African Union.
“It’s at difficult moments that we know who our friends are,” he said. ”Through this building, China has shown that it can be considered a true friend.”
In addition, Obiang thanked Ethiopia for the role it played in supporting the headquarters of the African Union. The Ethiopian government provided the land on which the headquarters was built.
The African Union was formed about a decade ago as a successor to the Organization of African Unity.
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